We spoke at the August 28, 2019, monthly meeting of the unelected CPS Board of Education. Our prepared statement with clarifications is below. You can find our live tweets here. You can watch video of Jianan's speech here. You can find press coverage of the meeting far below.
Jianan Shi, Executive Director of Raise Your Hand
There are two issues Raise Your Hand would like to speak on. The first is around building inclusive Local School Councils and providing an environment that gives protections to those who are undocumented and those who are overpoliced. This is SB453, around fingerprinting LSC members. This bill will be brought to vote in the house during veto session. On behalf of Enlance, Maldef and RYH, we ask that the Board publicly support this bill.
The second issue that I hope the Board of Education addresses is regarding the 1.3 billion dollars that have been robbed by the Lincoln Yards MegaTIF. Two days ago, Hal Dardick of the Chicago Tribune broke down how rushing this deal was the only way it would have passed.
In order to establish a TIF district, an area must meet at least 5 of the 13 standards of blight. Lincoln Yards immediately did not meet 8 of these standards. If it waited 6 more weeks to complete last year’s property assessments, it would have not met the 9th of these standards. This is an illegal designation of land.
The proposed TIF district property value must have declined or grown at a rate slower than the rest of the city in 3 of the last 5 years. 2016, 2017, 2018 - it did not meet the criteria the last 3 years.
As Board members, as education experts, as taxpayers, I hope you feel a personal stake to this development. In this past week, how many stories have y'all heard about capital improvements that are necessary but not in the budget? How many stories have y'all heard about staffing shortages (special education, nursing) that are important but not in the budget?
There is still 812 million dollars not claimed for reimbursement by Sterling Bay. That means there could be over 400 million dollars for Chicago Public Schools during the TIF district lifetime.
Lightfoot’s push to her electeds and to her appointeds is that y’all should not be rubber stamps. I hope that the Board can come out in support for an investigation to shed light on this issue and to support the stoppage of any more money for Lincoln Yards until all of these necessary questions are answered.
CLARIFICATION TO OUR STATEMENT: Lincoln Yards did not qualify for TIF funding at the time that it was passed. The City rushed to approve the TIF before it was publicly known that Lincoln Yards wouldn’t qualify. Lincoln Yards doesn’t legally qualify for TIF funding, period. But the City found a way around that by using numbers that were old (2013-2017) instead of more current numbers (2014-2018). The numbers proving this were already calculated and available on the assessor’s web site by late 2018 – but they were not “certified” until after the TIF vote. City Council passed the Lincoln Yards TIF just before it would have been clear to everyone or publicly known that it was ineligible.
Press coverage of the meeting (will update)
CPS FY2020 budget
Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago wants to spend more on accommodations for students with disabilities. Advocates say the plan still falls short. You can find Access Living's Disabilities Rights Analysis of the CPS Budget here. You can find our statement from the capital budget hearing at Morgan Park HS here. (The capital budget passed 6-0)
Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago schools are in better financial shape, but civic watchdog says district needs long-term plan (The operating budget passed 6-0.)
School Resource Officers (SROs) contract
Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago approves $33 million for school police despite student criticism
(The school police contract passed 5-1; Todd-Breland voted no, Revuluri was absent)